By Riley Kaminer
The construction industry makes up over 4% of the US GDP, while building materials and construction account for 11% of global CO2 emissions globally. It’s a sector ripe for tech innovation, with 43% of CIOs in the space reporting to KPMG that they expect to increase their technology spend.
And Patrick Murphy is at the center of this innovation, building Togal.AI, an AI-powered platform that streamlines the planning process for construction projects, right out of Miami.
The Togal.AI team won $420,000 at the 2022 eMerge Americas Startup Competition, with Shark Tank judge Kevin O’Leary singing the startup’s praises. Murphy, a former congressman, expressed his excitement about the win: “Getting validation from a Shark Tank judge is not only cool, but a sign that Togal is worth investing in.”
This is not the first external funding that Togal.AI has raised. Between late 2019 and early 2020, the startup raised a friends and family round that included some angels from the industry. In 2021, they raised a seed round.
Murphy praised eMerge’s work developing our tech community and promoting it on a global stage, calling it “an exciting mission.”
For Murphy, the growth of our local tech ecosystem has been a long time coming. “Covid sped up some trends that were already happening,” he told Refresh Miami. “If it was going to take 10 or 15 years for this to happen, it all happened in a year.” Florida’s business climate and weather have always been a draw. But Covid and the normalization of remote work were, in Murphy’s mind, the real catalysts for growth.
The origins of Togal.AI stem from Murphy’s experience working at his family’s business, Coastal Construction.
While in Congress, Murphy worked on legislation around the future of work and innovation. When he rejoined the family firm, he was reminded that the biggest part of their overhead is the estimating department. This is the business unit tasked with determining the costs of each individual element, from toilets to tiles, paint to pavers. The team then sends out PDFs to each subcontractor, collecting, collating, and assessing bids.
Every time there is even a minor change to a project’s plans, this is the team that has to intervene and manually update all the estimations. That can get costly when you consider that projects can last about two or three years for homes and upwards of five for larger-scale condo or hotel projects.
“Then a lightbulb went off,” said Murphy. “This is a perfect solution for artificial intelligence,” he noted. “We have a data set, and we can label that data set. And it’s somewhat consistent information.”
“It’s allowing humans to focus on the higher value tasks, and that really helps their company win more work,” he said.
The plan originally was to keep this tech inside of Coastal. But as the team started to get some momentum, they decided to spin it out. Now the company reports having around 70 construction companies with between one and 10 licenses each, adding up to a SaaS play with hundreds of users. Togal.AI also has a second revenue stream in which they provide a white-labeled version of the platform for other construction tech companies to use.
Growth is top of mind for Togal.AI. Murphy hopes to build out his 18-person team (four of whom are in South Florida), onboard more customers to the platform, initiate more partnerships, and expand their product offering. He also signaled a focus on the AI systems underpinning the platform: “We continue to acquire more data and continue to improve our algorithms, which are more and more accurate.”
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